The war in the Persian Gulf could keep a Baltimore County family from pursuing their lifelong dream of running a horse in the English Grand National.
Von Csadek, the brilliant Maryland-based jumper, definitely will not run in the world famous steeplechase on April 6 in Liverpool, England, "if this war is still going on then," the horse's trainer, Doug Worrall, said yesterday.
"There is no way, in this perilous time, with a bunch of crazy terrorists on the loose, that I'm going to subject my horse or my son, who rides him, on a flight to England."
Worrall recently shipped the horse home from England, partly, he said, because "I didn't want my horse left over there in case they [British authorities] embargoed horses. As it is now, it's almost impossible to ship a horse from this country to Europe. The shipping companies say that the government has picked up many of their freight planes to fly war supplies. Flying horseflesh overseas isn't exactly a top priority right now."
Von Csadek, after virtually winning every important timber steeplechase in this country, was shipped to England in August. He ran four times, winning twice and finishing eighth in the Hennessey Gold Cup and second at Newbury Race Course on Dec. 29.
"But in neither the Hennessey Gold Cup nor the Newbury race did he try at all," Worrall said. "He just wasn't himself. He was depressed and wasn't acclimating well. So we decided to bring him home. The other factor was the possibility of war. I didn't want the horse stranded over there."
There were also vivid reports in the British racing papers about Worrall quarreling with the horse's English trainer, Henrietta Knight. In fact, Knight is said to have kicked Von Csadek and the Worralls out of her barn. "Not true," Worrall said. "We think Henrietta did an excellent job."
Von Csadek arrived back to his Baltimore County barn Jan. 12.
"Since he's been home, he's bucking and kicking and is back to his old self," Worrall said.
The current plan is to fly Von Csadek to England in mid-March for a run in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter Race Couse. The race would serve as a prep for the more important Liverpool race.
"We'd then fly the horse home, and if everything went well, we'd return for the English Grand National," Worrall said. "Essentially, we'd be running right off the plane. The British and Irish have done that very successfully when bringing horses over here."
But, all these plans will be scrapped if the war is still going on.
"What we would do then is stay home and try to win the Maryland Hunt Cup," Worrall said.
That's the one race where victory has eluded Von Csadek. He's tried twice, and each time his rider, 19-year-old Patrick Worrall, has fallen at a fence. The younger Worrall deferred entering the University of Virginia this year to try to win the English Grand National.